Appearing for Court Remotely


Ever since the COVID pandemic forced many of our in-person activities online, it has become more and more common for people to appear remotely for Court proceedings. In Colorado, the Courts use a software called WebEx, which is similar to Zoom, and considered to be secure for Court proceedings.

I recently wrote about long-distance divorces and how that process normally works. In a divorce with little conflict, it is usually fairly easy for one or both parties to get permission from the Court to appear remotely, making it possible for someone to get divorced without ever leaving the comfort of their home.

However, if a party files a motion to appear remotely and the judge denies it, then that person will still have to fly in and participate in person.

Why Would a Judge Insist on Someone Appearing in Person?

In short, credibility. Understand that, in a trial, people oftentimes have very different versions of reality, and both sides are attempting to convince the judge that his/her testimony is more accurate. During a trial, a judge will closely observe each party’s demeanor to assess whether they seem credible or not.

I’m sure you’ve had an encounter with someone where they were trying to persuade you one way or the other, and you just knew that something wasn’t right. Perhaps they couldn’t look you in the eyes, their body language seemed off, or something else just didn’t add up. Judges are assessing cues like this throughout a trial to help them make a ruling that is fair.

For a long time, the Courts did not like remote testimony because they aren’t as easily able to determine credibility. However, in decades past, remote testimony has often been conducted via telephone. These days, we have video conferencing, which allows the judges to see and hear a witness in real-time to gauge reactions and make note of how the person chooses to express himself/herself.

Instances Where People Are Allowed to Appear Remotely

Judges may allow witnesses to appear remotely in divorce cases that are fairly amicable, in situations where an expert witness lives out of state or is traveling, or in extreme cases where one party may experience psychological distress if they are forced to appear in Court.

Several years ago, I worked on a divorce case where one of the children was a special needs teenager. This boy had Downs Syndrome, and he had been so traumatized by his father that even being in the same room as him caused the boy to shut down to the point where he wouldn’t speak. This was a problem because we wanted him to testify so we could demonstrate to the Court the parenting plan that was in the boy’s best interests.

We arranged for provisions where the boy was allowed to testify remotely from the next room. We got him set up in a conference room with a camera, good lighting, and a microphone, so everyone in Court could clearly hear and see him. He did not even see his father on screen or know that his father was in the same building.

This worked very well and preserved the mental health of the minor while still allowing him to testify. Generally, the Courts will be accommodating to instances where people have special requirements like this.

Every Situation is Different

Like I always say, every situation is different when it comes to Court. If you’re dealing with a case in Boulder County, call our office today at 303-449-1873 to schedule a complimentary consultation and find out if Barre Sakol is the right representative for your case.

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